Visiting Associate Professor
Dr. Karen Pinto specializes in the history of Islamic cartography and its intersections between Ottoman, European, and other world cartographic traditions. Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, educated at Dartmouth and Columbia, Karen Pinto is into pre-modern maps of all kinds and sizes in a big way. She specializes in Medieval Islamic maps and has spent the better part of three decades hunting them down in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscript libraries around the world. She has a 3000-strong image repository of Islamic maps—many that have never been published before. Her book, Medieval Islamic Maps: An Exploration (Chicago 2016), won a Choice’s 2017 Outstanding Academic Title award. She has received a number of distinguished fellowships including an NEH Fellowship, a Harley Fellowship, and a Social Science Research Council Ibn Khaldun prize for her work on Medieval Islamic maps of the Mediterranean. Karen is completing a smaller book on “What is ‘Islamic’ about Islamic Maps?” (Arc Humanities Press, forthcoming), after which she plans to publish monographs on the Mediterranean and Andalus and the Maghrib in the Islamic Cartographic Imagination.
Karen has also been working on an online digital encyclopedia on Medieval Islamic Maps (MIME), which pending funding for the copyright and use of the images, she hopes to release to the public some day soon. In addition, she has published articles on Medieval Islamic maps of the Maghrib (“Passion and Conflict: Medieval Islamic views of the West"); Islamic cartographic connections with Ottoman Cartography (“Searchin’ his eyes, lookin’ for traces: Piri Reis’ World Map of 1513 & Its Islamic Iconographic Connections (A Reading Through Bağdat 334 and Proust;” "The Maps Are The Message: Mehmet II’s Patronage of an ‘Ottoman Cluster’”); “Surat Bahr al-Rum: Possible Meanings Underlying the Forms,” and, of late, her identification of an Islamic map manuscript form the late 12th century possibly with Emperor Frederick II’s signature in “Interpretation, Intention, & Impact: Andalusi Arab and Norman Sicilian Examples of Islamo-Christian Cartographic Translation," in Knowledge in Translation: Global Patterns of Scientific Exchange, 1000–1800 CE, edited by Patrick Manning and Abigail E. Owen, (The University of Pittsburgh Press, September 2018), 41-57.
Recently, Pinto discovered the earliest mimetic painting of the moon in a 8th century hamam (bathhouse) of the Umayyad prince and Caliph al-Walid II. It predates European Renaissance efforts by seven centuries. And, she was invited to curate Aramco World’s 2020 calendar on Islamic Maps Free copies of calendar available in the department.